Saturday, March 30, 2013

Central African Republic: South Africa further humiliated

Reuters reports

S. Africa's Zuma to join summit on Central African Republic 

(Reuters) - South African President Jacob Zuma will attend a summit of central African heads of state in Chad on Wednesday which will consider responses to the rebel takeover in Central African Republic.

Given that former president Bozize has fled and that the security apparatus including the army and police have pledged loyalty to the rebel regime. there is no substantive response available.
                                                            Michel Djotodia President CAR
"All the former chiefs of police, gendarmes, the head of the armed forces and other senior officers came to the meeting. This was a form of surrender," he said.
The world fairly much made its response known back in late December 2012 when the rebels started to make real inroads I blogged at the time,  
" Bozize’s appeals for help from France and from the United States to fight the rebels have fallen on deaf ears.
Neighbouring Chad, which has helped Bozize with rebellions in 2010, earlier sent a contingent to the country, however."

Unlike the DR Congo the west has not invested heavily in legitimising the regime electorally if it should fall so be it would seem to be the prevailing attitude.

The regime has fallen and the only sensible response the world can make is to recognise the new regime. Jacob Zuma looks like the bloody fool he is and I am guessing the Chad meeting is more about saving Zuma's face than any substantive response to the  Seleka coalitions take over.

The South African leader was invited by Chadian President Idriss Deby, chair of the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States, to join the extraordinary ECCAS summit in N'Djamena on April 3, Zuma's spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

South Africa is facing questions about its role in Central African Republic after 13 of its soldiers were killed there last weekend as they fought alongside government troops trying to prevent rebels from ousting President Francois Bozize from power.

South Africa screwed up. I suspect it was motivated by a perceived pissing contest with France and one that France adroitly avoided.  South Africa will no doubt become the regions major power but it is not ready for that role yet and certainly not  in situations like the CAR that are significantly geographically removed. The South African military has substantial " building in capacity " exercise in front of it if it is to fulfill the current geopolitical fantasies of Zuma.

The opposition in South Africa and regional analysts have asked why a South African military training mission in Central African Republic became directly entangled in the internal conflict there.

Ego. Zuma's.

South African media reports have suggested the soldiers were defending South African mining interests in a country rich in diamonds, uranium and oil, but officials in Pretoria have denied this. They say the presence of the 400 South African troops was covered by a 2007 bilateral defence accord with Bozize.

Maharaj told Reuters there was nothing unusual about the South African role in Central African Republic or Zuma's participation in the extraordinary ECCAS summit in Chad.

"We want to participate and benefit from the knowledge of the colleagues in the region, and share our ideas," he said.

Now that is funny. I blogged this from the Zimbabwe Mail a couple of days ago.
" KAMPALA (Reuters) - South African soldiers gathered in Uganda on Thursday for a "new mission" to the Central African Republic (CAR), where 13 of their comrades were killed in a rebel coup at the weekend, South African media and a senior Ugandan officer said.
"The intention of the South Africans is to reorganize themselves and then redeploy massively in CAR and topple these rebels. They were humiliated and they want to avenge," the officer told Reuters, asking not to be named."
The South African Army deployed to CAR to prevent a rebel takeover. They did so when it became apparent that France was not interested in any intervention other than the protection of French interests and citizens.

I rather suspect that a massive redeployment and " ..toppling these rebels " is no longer the plan. It would seem though the South African media have learnt something from the French. From above.
South African media reports have suggested the soldiers were defending South African mining interests.."
They weren't deployed for that reason that was the reason the French deployed. I guess the only institution that is more stupid than the media is government. 

Zuma would be accompanied at the summit by his ministers for foreign affairs, state security and defence.

On Friday, Central African Republic's new president, rebel leader Michel Djotodia, said he would review resource deals signed by the previous government and promised to step down at elections in 2016.

Djotodia was responding to questions about resource licences awarded to Chinese and South African firms by Bozize.

He added he would seek aid from former colonial power France and the United States to retrain the ill-disciplined army, a statement which appeared to be a blow to South African aspirations to maintain a role in Central African Republic.

That is the real kicker in this report. South Africa has failed, Zuma has been humiliated. The meeting in Chad is nothing more than a face saving exercise. 

Maharaj said South Africa's involvement there stemmed from calls by the African Union in the mid-2000s for African states to participate actively in moves to maintain stability and contribute to capacity-building in the central African state, which has a history of coups and revolts.

He said the 2007 bilateral defence accord, whose details have not been made public, derived directly from this.

Following the rebel takeover, the African Union suspended Central African Republic's membership and imposed sanctions on the rebel leaders, including Djotodia.
Yawn. Michel Djotodia has won. For the moment.

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